Blog Elemental – When Will It End?
July 28, 2004
Today I have an announcement:
I had originally intended to run this experiment through the end of August. I’m feeling like that might be overkill, though. Instead of a date, I’m going to say that after my one hundredth game, I will officially call the decklist finished and move on to the next experiment. That means I’m just over half done, so you still have a lot of playing/tweaking to witness.
I now return you to your regularly-scheduled deck testing…
Game 52: Red/Green… Something
His deck seems to be at a bit at cross-purposes. He casts three early Spark Elementals to go along with Viashino Sandstalker, but he also is casting Journey of Discovery and Sylvan Scrying to horde land. Maybe it was a Confusion in the Ranks deck, now that I think about it. Anyway, my Leonin Elder and two Leonin Squires recurse Chromatic Sphere and Aether Spellbomb and I win easily.
Game 52: Mono-Green Beasts
I can’t believe I can’t remember this guy’s name, but he challenged me with a deck he just threw together because he wants to see my deck in action. What he threw together isn’t bad, with a full four Ravenous Baloths to complement Rampant Growth, Infested Roothold, Barkhide Mauler, and Sprouting Vines. A long, drawn-out affair ensues in which I’m tapping things with Leonin Bola, killing things with Engineered Explosives, bouncing things with Aether Spellbomb and ultimately killing him with Pyrite Spellbomb, all with the help of Auriok Salvagers and Salvaging Station. The game is over long before I get him to zero life, and I end up somewhere in the sixties. A nice guy, though. Sorry I didn’t write down your name.
Game 54: Mono-Black Arcbound deck
It gets scary quickly when my opponent gets Disciple of the Vault and two Arcbound Workers. Then a Carrion Feeder, Nantuko Husk, Skeleton Shard, Arcbound Slith, Arcbound Stinger show up at various times to give me grief. I get very low on life, but a recycling Engineered Explosives set first at one, then at three, then at two, keep me alive long enough to find a Leonin Elder. After that my life starts climbing. When I have enough mana to repeatedly get Aether Spellbomb bouncing his Arcbound fellows and Carrion Feeder, my opponent concedes. [Am I the only person who wonders why it seems none of Jay’s opponent’s run much removal? Kill the Salvagers! – Knut, confused]
Game 55: Blue/Black Reanimator
His deck is really cool. It uses Guardian Idols to ramp up mana, Thirst for Knowledge to dump fatties into his graveyard, then Beacon of Unrest to reanimate. It works like a charm and by the fifth turn or so he has a Memnarch of the table with plenty of mana. I’m slightly land-screwed (darned twenty-two land) and can’t cycle through cogs fast enough to recover with two Leonin Squires on the board. I concede when he can turn my permanents to artifacts and gain control of them in the same turn.
Game 56: Nuts and Bolts (!)
Game fifty-six is my first mirror match. He’s a few iterations behind me, but after checking to make sure it’s really me he says that I”inspire” him, which is awfully flattering. Anyway, it turns out not to be much of a game as he gets stuck on three land, all White mana sources. I get a full array of tricks, and by the time he’s at four land I have two Leonin Elder, two Vedalken Engineers, two Leonin Squire, and a Salvaging Station recycling Chromatic Spheres like mad. At five life he says”okay, okay” and concedes with my life in the forties. He hadn’t put red into the deck yet and I would have popped my Spellbombs faster if I were him to dig through the manascrew, but still it was great fun to see firsthand someone else trying my experiment.
I am not, however, liking the deck’s mana. Ever since I dropped an Island and added four Blue cards, I am finding myself with too much White mana and too few Blue. If the Engineers actually come into play they are tremendously helpful for sorting out the deck’s mana requirements, but I’ve already found that they sometimes get stuck in my hand.
Here is a quick-fix today before I seriously examine the deck’s mana tomorrow:
OUT: 2 Plains
IN: 2 Grand Coliseum
As I said, I don’t think I can cut into the deck’s Blue mana anymore while I seem to have a surplus of white available. Out go two Plains, then, for a land that can generate all five colors of mana without the constant pain of City of Brass – there’s a lot of colorless casting going on in my deck, so it’s nice to have the option to not take damage.
Why not Glimmervoid, which has no pain at all and keeps the deck Mirrodin Block legal? Two reasons. First and most practical, Glimmervoids are hard to come by and I already have four Grand Coliseum in my collection. Second, I worry given all of the saccing of cogs I do that Glimmervoid will either die or get stuck in my hand. Artifact land help, of course, but less than half of the deck’s land is artifact land. That feels unnecessarily dicey to me. All of that said, I still think Glimmervoid is just as good as Coliseum to test here, and the Coliseum’s comes-into-play tapped ability might stress me out.
Blog Elemental – Confession Time
July 27, 2004
Confession #1: I did a naughty thing. I played a whole batch of games without logging the results. I had just done a bunch of writing on my novel and frankly, was a little written out. I wanted to play some Magic as an escape, and I wanted to play the Nuts & Bolts deck without the burden of documenting what happened. I am bad. I am sorry.
The good news is that I won almost all of my games and logged some good experience with Artificer’s Intuition. Before I get into my impressions, here are some”official” games from Friday:
Game 46: Mono-Red Weenies
I felt bad for my opponent. She (I’m assuming it was a she by her screenname) had a Red deck that looked pretty cobbled together from Eighth Edition and Mirrodin block. Barbed Lightning, Crazed Goblin, Hill Giant, Goblin King, Vulshok Berserker… you get the idea. To add insult to injury, I have a first-turn Leonin Elder, second-turn Sunbeam Spellbomb, third-turn and fourth-turn Leonin Squire to recycle the Spellbomb twice. Then I get an Aether Spellbomb to bounce my Squires after they get blocked. She concedes at twelve life when I play Qumulox for two mana, with my life in the thirties. Ouch.
Game 47: White/Red Form of the Dragon
This game was ridiculous. First, I keep a hand that is Leonin Elder and six land, three of them artifact land. I don’t know why I kept it, but I did. I then proceed to draw four land in a row. My opponent isn’t messing around either. He plays two Solemn Simulacrum, Nuisance Engine, then Worship. I thought the Worship-Engine thing is the deck’s”trick,” but I was wrong. I search out Engineered Explosives to kill the Engine. When he plays Leonin Squire (getting nothing back) and Auriok Salvagers, I’m confused and more than a little scared, so recycle the Explosives, find Chromatic Sphere, and blow up everything with four mana. Then it comes: Form of the Dragon, and I think I’m screwed. Oh, and did I mention that no less than six people decided to watch this game? I’m cursing and frowning and thinking”This is the game everyone watches?”
I’m going to die, so I start cycling through cogs like mad to find some answer – any answer. Salvaging Station helps, and a Sunbeam Spellbomb means I can stay ahead of the Form damage. Then, eventually I see it, sitting there. I already have one Great Furnace, and there are two Trinket Mages in my hand, which I had been hoarding to wait for inspiration. I get Chromatic Sphere back with Salvagers. I play one Mage for Pyrite Spellbomb, the second for another Great Furnace. Then I Salvage my Explosives at zero, pop it to kill his two Pest tokens, which triggers the Station and allows me to Pyrite Spellbomb three times for the win. A smattering of applause trickles from the peanut gallery. Whew.
Game 48: Obliterate the Indestructibles
Okay, I made up that dumb deck name. After seeing the last game, LesJarvis asks me if I want to play and I say sure. For the second game in a row I keep a hand that’s too land-heavy, but this time I have a wee bit of offense. Meanwhile, he gets out a Solemn Simulacrum or two, and a Gilded Lotus (“Mind’s Desire deck?” I ask.”No,” he says) on the way to setting up first Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] (“March of the Machines?””No.”) then Mycosynth Lattice (“Obliterate?””More or less.”), then Tower of Murmurs. Since I’m clearly going to lose if he finds an Obliterate, I go on all-out offense. Both Qumulox come down and he can’t find his key card. Whew again.
Game 49: Mono-Red Burn
This guy’s deck was just burn, burn, burn right to my face. I was faintly amused, thinking there was no way he had a chance really, since I get a nice good start. I get Auriok Salvagers, then Trinket Mage for a Sunbeam Spellbomb and I chuckle to myself. Silly, silly man. He cannot win. Then he drops Damping Matrix and all of my plans come to a screeching halt. No more Salvager recursion. No more cogs. Now I just have a bad weenie deck, and I’m racing a bunch of burn. Luckily his hand is mostly shot and what he draws is Extraplanar Lens and Barbed Lightning. I cast Leonin Squires and Trinket Mages with abandon, knowing I’ll lose to a board sweeper, but also knowing I’ll lose if he gets too many draws. Luckily he doesn’t, and my two-power dudes carry the day.
Game 50: Black/Green Grave Pact
His deck works just as it’s supposed to, getting some quick mana in the form of Birds of Paradise and Copper Myr before casting two Diabolic Tutors and two Plunge Into Darkness. He sets up Lightning Coils to go along with Grave Pact, Wirewood Herald (to get Caller of the Claw), Carrion Feeder and Nantuko Husk. So I lost, right? You bet your bippy I lost.
Once he had Grave Pact and Carrion Feeder on the table, my Auriok Salvagers, Qumulox, and Leonin Elder all die horrible deaths, and I’ll never be able to keep a creature on the board again. I have to Artificer’s Intuition for Engineered Explosives for one just to survive, and it takes me too long to draw a way to recurse it (Leonin Squire) and set it to zero. I manage to delay the inevitable for a few turns, but the inevitable soon turns into a 24/24 Husk.
Game 51: Mono-Black Lightning Coils
The Feared Avocado (yes, really) asks me for a game, and I say sure. Unfortunately, I have to leave for a haircut right afterwards, so I’m not going to be able to recount the details of what was a very long and fun game against a nice guy with a cool deck. Suffice it to say, he is using Lightning Coils, Spawning Pit, Energy Chamber, Coretapper, Myr Retriever, and a variety of other tricks. I am fortunate that he never sees Grave Pact or Disciple of the Vault, both of which are in the deck.
Anyway, I have a Leonin Elder to go along with Auriok Salvagers and although I haven’t found a tutor I’m doing fine recursing Sunbeam Spellbomb to draw cards and Pyrite Spellbomb for damage. I eventually get Engineered Explosives for two which sets him back a bit. He Diabolic Tutors for his lone Scrabbling Claws, I find mine, and now things get tense. After lots of gymnastics, the game basically gets decided when I try and recurse my Pyrite Spellbomb, he targets it with his Claws, I target it with my Conjurer’s Bauble, then blow my Explosives set at two again, he sacs his Retriever targeting Claws, and I remove his Claws with my own. Like I said, it was a long and fun game. After about three turns of recycling tricks, I win at sixty-four life.
Confession #2: I don’t like Artificer’s Intuition. It just doesn’t fit my style. I keep wishing the Intuition was a creature or a trick I could perform instead of pure tutoring. It also strikes me as too Blue for a base-White deck and too slow for what it does. Mostly, though, I just don’t think it’s cool. Was it helpful in my games? I guess. Is it good for a cog deck? I guess. Are four Trinket Mages enough tutoring? Probably not, so it’s nice to have duplication of the effect. Through roughly fifteen to twenty games, I don’t see anything mechanically wrong with Artificer’s Intuition except the minor quibbles I listed above. But I’m still going to change it.
Let that sink in for a moment. The card has proved fine in testing and I am going to change it.
Why? Well, the answer for that is complicated. This is a pet deck of mine and pet decks contain all sorts of cards that resist logic. If this were a pet tournament deck, I would say that you have full license to call me an idiot (well, let’s be honest: You already have full license to call me an idiot). Casual pet decks, though, should resist logical criticism a bit more hardily.
In my case, I think there are three things to keep in mind:
This is a casual deck. Don’t get all worked up, man. We’re all friends here.
The goal of this experiment is to make a deck I enjoy playing. My hope is that in seeing my journey you will get inspired to do some of your own deckbuilding and maybe learn something from my thinking and process. When you boil it all down, though, it’s all about my enjoyment and my enjoyment alone. Heh.
I’m not in any way arguing that you should play my version of the deck. In fact, I think I’m arguing the opposite. People have already posted about their own versions using Grinding Station and Myr Servitor or adding Black for Necrogen Spellbomb and Disciple of the Vault or using Battered Golem and Viridian Longbow. I haven’t yet taken my deck down these paths, but they are really cool ideas. Make the deck that brings a smile to your face.
I’m probably belaboring the point, but this is the first time that I have tried a card out, recognized it as good, and moved in a different direction. When I’m not documenting my deckbuilding process, I make these sorts of decisions all of the time. In fact, I almost guarantee that this isn’t the last time I will do something that makes you shake your head and say”Wow… that’s not what I would have done at all.”
OUT: 2 Artificer’s Intuition
IN: 4 Vedalken Engineers
This was a suggestion made by krzyzewski in the Forums and I like it. He says:”Adding another color(s) to the deck means Vedalken Engineers need serious consideration. 2cc and limited 1/1 stats pale in comparison to the ability to tap for TWO COLORED mana. Don’t like mana? Swing for the attack, and the articifer’s death allows Salvaging Station to untap.” I have to say that I’m intrigued by the argument and want to give it a try during this testing stage.
I’m not sure if dropping two lands is the correct call when adding four Engineers. I’m also not sure about the one Island and Plains decision. That’s why we test, I suppose. Tomorrow let’s see how the little Blue software coders do…
Nuts And Bolts V.2.2
4 Leonin Elder
4 Leonin Squire
4 Vedalken Engineers
4 Trinket Mage
4 Auriok Salvagers
4 Aether Spellbomb
4 Chromatic Sphere
2 Salvaging Station
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
1 Leonin Bola
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb
1 Engineered Explosives
4 Ancient Den
4 Seat of the Synod
2 Great Furnace
Blog Elemental – Knocking Off My Block
July 26, 2004
First off, there’s been a request to list my current decklist at the beginning of each week. Here ’tis:
4 Aether Spellbomb
4 Chromatic Sphere
2 Artificer’s Intuition
2 Salvaging Station
1 Conjurer’s Bauble
1 Leonin Bola
1 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Scrabbling Claws
1 Sunbeam Spellbomb
1 Engineered Explosives
You may have noticed that every single card in the deck is currently from the Mirrodin block (that is, Mirrodin, Darksteel, or Fifth Dawn). This isn’t hugely surprising since the deck is based around the cog mechanic, a mechanic first seen in Fifth Dawn with most of the usable cogs either in that set or in the form of Mirrodin‘s Spellbombs. However, it bugs me that no other Standard-legal cards have thus far made it into the deck. Can it really be true that nothing from Eighth Edition, Onslaught, Legions, or Scourge is worth including?
Here are some brainstormed ideas of cards from recent sets outside of Mirrodin block that might fit the deck:
Creatures: Air Elemental, Ageless Sentinels, Clone, Eternal Dragon, Exalted Angel, Intrepid Hero, Mahamoti Djinn, Phantom Warrior, Planar Guide, Quicksilver Dragon, Riptide Shapeshifter, Serra Angel, Spiketail Hatchling, Sunweb, Wall of Hope, Wall of Swords, Weathered Wayfarer, Windborn Muse.
Other Stuff: Boomerang, Brain Freeze, Chain of Vapor, Choking Tethers, Evacuation, Gilded Light, Renewed Faith, Spellbook, Star Compass, Unsummon, Wing Shards, Words of Wind, Words of Worship, Worship, Wrath of God, Zur’s Weirding
Some of these suggestions are a lot wackier than others (the idea of adding Zur’s Weirding, for example), and some (*cough* Wrath of God and Exalted Angel *cough*) definitely feel like they make the deck a lot less”casual.” In addition, I didn’t include splash-cards of other colors outside of White and Blue, but truly the deck has access to all five colors of mana.
I’m obviously just thinking out loud here. It just seems silly to have a Standard deck only drawing on cards from three different sets. I’m tempted to keep the deck Block-legal, but there’s no point in me doing so. I like Standard more than any other format, and if I focus on MD5 (that’s Mirrodin Block Constructed for you beginners), I will be able to find a lot fewer games in the Casual room.
If you have non-Block cards you think fit into the deck, either from my above list or otherwise, please speak up in the Forums. I’ve got some ideas I’ll likely pursue tomorrow or Wednesday, but I always appreciate the feedback.